RIDGEFIELD -- For two quarters on Tuesday evening, Ridgefield High boys basketball coach Carl Charles didn't see the type of aggressive, defensive-first play that he's preached for so long.
In fact, Charles, whose team trailed Staples by eight points at halftime, saw nothing close to it.
"At halftime we were disappointed because I really felt that we were getting out-hustled," Charles said. "They wanted to win more than we did. They were out-working us, they were out-rebounding us. They were out-hustling us. They were out-executing us."
Soon enough, Ridgefield settled back into its old style.
Shifting primarily to a zone defense from its trademark 1-3-1 and zone looks, the Tigers locked down defensively on Staples in the second half and rallied for a 50-38 win.
After trailing by as many 11 points in the first half, Ridgefield outscored the Wreckers 34-14 over the final two quarters.
"We just completely reversed our effort," said Charles, whose team now sits at 6-1 on the season. "We played like the champions that we should be. That's what we expect."
Swingman Kurt Steidl scored 17 points to lead Ridgefield, while guard Jeffrey Racy added 12 points.
Trailing 24-16 at the start of the second half, Ridgefield outscored Staples 21-7 in the third quarter to take control. Steidl's bucket with 2:30 left in the third put the Tigers ahead for good, 32-31, before guard Matthew Brennan extended the lead to six with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
"We kind of gave some lapses on defense (in the first half)," the 6-foot-6 Steidl said. "We weren't hitting our shots, so we didn't have as much confidence as we should. The second half, once we came out, we just started hitting our shots and playing better defense."
Ridgefield forward Patrick Racy connected on a conventional 3-point play to open the fourth and extend the Tigers' lead to 43-33, but Staples responded. The Wreckers whittled the lead down to 43-38 on a free throw by forward Ross Whelan (seven points), before the Tigers closed the game on a 7-0 run.
"It came down to a few missed baskets and a few turnovers down the stretch," said Staples coach Colin Devine, whose team has now lost three straight after a 3-1 start. "That's really what it came down to. You play Ridgefield, they're a good basketball team and they're well-coached."
The Tigers managed to hold Staples' two leading scorers -- guards Peter Rankowitz and James Frusciante -- in check for most of the game. Frusciante led his team with 13 points, while Rankowitz had 11 points.
"We were right there," Devine said. "It's great, the effort that the boys showed that they can play with a top team in the league. We've just got to do our best to win these games in the future."
Coming off a 29-point loss to unbeaten Trinity Catholic four days earlier, the Wreckers started strong. The Wreckers used a 7-0 run spanning from the end of the first quarter to the start of the second to open their largest lead, 18-7. The Tigers got back to within 19-16, but the Wreckers closed the half scoring five straight points.
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RIDGEFIELD 50, STAPLES 38
Alex Addessi 0 2-2 2 James Frusciante 5 3-6 13 David Katz 0 0-0 0 Peter Rankowitz 4 2-5 11 Ross Whelan 3 1-2 7 Darryle Wiggins 1 1-2 3. Joe Greenwald 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 9-17 38.
Charles Irwin 0 0-0 0 Daniel Greenberg 0 0-0 0 Zachary Ward 0 0-0 0 Jeffrey Racy 5 0-0 12 Matthew Bartolucci 0 0-0 0 Matthew Brennan 1 1-2 4 Griffin Jones 0 0-0 0 Patrick Racy 4 0-0 8 Andrew Barton 2 0-0 4 Chipper McClelland 0 0-0 0 Kurt Steidl 5 6-8 17 Thomas Haughney 0 0-0 0 Jonathan Hicks 2 1-1 5 Christopher Brewi. Totals 0 0-0 0.
STAPLES 14 10 7 7--38
RIDGEFIELD 7 9 21 13--50
3-pointers: S--Rankowitz; R--Jeffrey Racy 2, Brennan, Steidl.